November 28, 2016 – Prepared Flexibility

So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. – Matthew 24:44

This is the last line from yesterday’s Gospel reading. Jesus is calling us to prepare ourselves for His coming. Jesus is coming again, and we are not privy to the date, time or location. We must always be in a state of readiness.

As a military family, this phrase “state of readiness” has a unique meaning. Though now Ben is going to be on the training side of the house, the past 4 years we lived in a constant state of readiness. We were ready for him to deploy, ready for him to be gone for an unknown number of days, ready to convert our household from two parents to one and back to two again. After going through that experience, it is my opinion that being in a state of readiness actually means being willing to not only accept but actively work with transition and change. Part of being prepared is the ability to be flexible.

If you are a scheduling type of person, see how scheduling 3 minutes of prayer goes today. You can schedule it for any time of the day, and you can say any prayer you want. You can say the Sign of the Cross and contemplate it’s meaning, you can slowly pray an Our Father or Hail Mary, or speak to God from your heart. You can even set a timer if you want.

If you are not a hard and fast scheduling person, consider setting 3 alarms on your phone to go off throughout the day. If an alarm goes off and you are unable to stop what you are doing for prayer, disregard it and wait for the next one. See what times of day lend themselves to more focused prayer than others. Shoot for 3 minutes of uninterrupted prayer as described in the previous paragraph. You must have 3 minutes somewhere, right?

Part of being prepared is laying the foundation for the change to come. Knowing the times that are best for your prayer time is one way to add a few more sturdy blocks to your foundation.

****How did your Sign of the Cross go yesterday? Was it easy or hard to remember to pause and do it? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.

Daily Graces.

November 27, 2016 – Preparation

And so we begin! Happy New Year! Advent is the start of the Church’s year. I think it is fitting that our first liturgical season isn’t the celebration of Christ’s birth, which some might argue is the beginning of the Church. Others can make the case that Pentecost would make a good “New Years.” Pentecost is also called the birthday of the Church.

But it is Advent, a season of preparation, that ushers us into a new cycle of readings and a new year. A season of darkness, awaiting the coming of the light. We ask ourselves, “How prepared are we to receive Jesus’ coming?” Are we like the 5 wise virgins who made sure they had extra oil for their lamps, or are we more akin to the 5 foolish virgins who ran out of oil and had to go get more, missing the bridegroom’s coming entirely?

Each time we pray, we start by preparing ourselves for prayer. When we say the Sign of the Cross we are doing a number of things. First, we are focusing ourselves to pray. We are creating a moment of time, sanctifying the space we occupy for prayer. Second, we are professing belief in God as Trinity. God is one, yet God is three. This is a mystery that is fundamental to our faith. Third, while you are preparing yourself for prayer, you are actually praying already! Fourth, you are literally covering your body in the most important symbol of our faith, the cross, through which we are saved. Fifth, we are reminding ourselves of our baptism and baptismal promises (click here for a refresher).

For today, really focus on the Sign of the Cross. Even if this is the only thing you pray, a single Sign of the Cross is worth a great deal and worth doing every day.

Every time that we make the sign of the cross, we draw closer to the great mystery of the Trinity. – Pope Francis’ Twitter feed, Sept. 12, 2015

Daily Graces.

They’ll be here any minute!

Everyone knows the feeling. Company is coming for dinner, the bathroom still needs to be cleaned, floors are barely swept and you are frantically changing the baby’s diaper explosion. Ok, so maybe not everyone knows that specific scenario but insert your own life experience and I’m sure you’ll get the picture.

Anyway, that was us to a a certain degree today. It seems to me that I am the most efficient cleaner in those few minutes before the doorbell is expected to ring. Also, I must have a second set of eyes, because I am able to much more clearly see all the things that need to be cleaned or dusted that apparently I was unable to discern just days prior. It’s rather embarrassing really. We are capable of being much more prepared.

Maybe you’re not like me. And if you aren’t like me, I’m rather jealous of you. If you aren’t like me, then you sweep and vacuum your floors often, and if you happen to have a dog that likes to roll around in the dust and dirt then you sweep and vacuum multiple times a day. You also don’t have a 4 year old boy using your bathrooms. And you have some kind of stain and grease resistant kitchen counter tops that don’t require constant scrubbing.

I’m being sarcastic of course. I know that there are people out there who are much better cleaners than I am, and I’m sure somewhere there is someone who is a worse cleaner (maybe). Regardless, I am always amazed at how much cleaning I get done before someone comes over. Amazed and dismayed. If I can clean this well and quickly before someone comes to my house, why can’t I do it all the time?

9GDUA0UARDAs I was musing on this while sweeping the floor this afternoon, wishing I was more prepared, I thought about how I’m not the only one with this kind of problem. In fact, there were people with my same or similar issue all the way back to Jesus’ time. Think about it, especially as an issue of preparedness. Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. 5 were wise and prepared, bringing extra oil with them just in case the bridegroom was late. 5 were not so wise. When the bridegroom did arrive, late, only 5 women had enough oil to light their lamps.

Cultivating a habit of preparation might be in order for our household. Rather than frantically piecing together the house, we are very capable of systematically keeping order, if we make it a priority.

Jesus told His disciples that He would return again, and the early Christians believed that His second coming was imminent. Time has continued to pass and we are still waiting for Jesus to come. The Church hasn’t changed it’s stance on this, we are in fact still waiting for Jesus to return. Even though so much time has passed, our level of preparation should not be any different than those early Christians.

Just like our physical houses need to be kept clean and orderly, so do our spiritual houses, our inner selves. Do we pray regularly? If we do pray, are we taking time to listen to God as well as speak to Him? Do we spend time in quiet reflection, contemplating how we make decisions and discerning the direction of our lives? Do we belong to a worshiping community that helps us stay accountable to the morals and virtues espoused by our faith? Do we share our faith with others, especially our spouse and children?

Personally, I believe that when I have good spiritual habits and practices, it is easier for me to keep other areas of my life, my home included, in good order. What do you think?

Feel free to leave comments and join in the conversation! =)